Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co.

Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co.
CourtUnited States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Full case nameSuntrust Bank, as Trustee of the Stephen Mitchell trusts f.b.o. Eugene Muse Mitchell and Joseph Reynolds Mitchell v. Houghton Mifflin Company
DecidedOctober 10, 2001
Citation(s)268 F.3d 1257
Case history
Prior action(s)136 F.Supp.2d 1357
Court membership
Judge(s) sittingBirch, Marcus, Wood (of the 7th Cir., sitting by designation)
Case opinions
MajorityBirch, joined by a unanimous court

Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin Co., 268 F.3d 1257 (11th Cir. 2001),[1], was a case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit against the owner of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, vacating an injunction prohibiting the publisher of Alice Randall's The Wind Done Gone from distributing the book.

This case arguably stands for the principle that the creation and publication of a carefully written parody novel in the United States counts as fair use. Despite stating that substantial portions of Mitchell's work were used, the Court of Appeals found that the likely outcome of a full adjudication of the rights involved was a finding of fair use. In permitting parody without permission, the decision follows the previous United States Supreme Court decision in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. which ruled that 2 Live Crew's unlicensed use of the bass line from Roy Orbison's song "Oh, Pretty Woman" could constitute fair use even though the work was a commercial use, and extends that principle from songs to novels. It is binding precedent in the Eleventh Circuit.

Mitchell's estate chose to drop the suit after publisher Houghton agreed to make a donation to Morehouse College.[2]


  1. ^ Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co., 268 F.3d 1257 (11th Cir. 2001).
  2. ^ "Mitchell Estate Settles Gone With the Wind Suit," The New York Times May 10, 2002; Settlement reached over Wind Done Gone, The Associated Press, May 10, 2002.

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